Learn about the science of snowmaking at Snowshoe Mountain


SNOWSHOE, W.Va. (WFXR) – Without snowmaking, there likely won’t be much of a ski season in the Alleghany Highlands.

Let’s face it, groomed snow with a base of around 36 feet and fresh powder introduced to the trails every night just isn’t part of the weather winter in Pocahontas County. As a result, the people of Snowshoe Mountain make their own.

To be clear, this is not fake snow, imitation, artificial snow, or any other type of snow as it is just frozen ice crystals falling on the ground .

The difference is that these flakes are generated from hundreds of snow cannons strategically placed all over the mountain.

Yes, you still need cold air and dry conditions to generate the right kind of powder for skiing, but at 4,848 feet above sea level, cold air isn’t hard to find. .

The process begins on November 1, conditions permitting, and continues throughout the season.

Hundreds of employees keep watch over the huge cannons, as well as a huge on-site compressor barn that generates compressed air, forces it through miles of pipes and combines it with the water from the lake at the foot of the mountain. to make snow for the snow cannons. However, the process of pushing water through fans at temperatures below freezing is not as straightforward as it sounds.

Over the past five years, Snowshoe has spent over $ 5 million on new guns and technology to make the process as energy efficient and possible.

Fun fact: If all the cannons were fired in perfect conditions for 12 hours, it would completely cover a 27-foot football field with snow. If you expand on that idea, within six days the football field would have a snow pile 324 feet high, which is four feet taller than the Wells Fargo Tower in Roanoke.

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